The Road is a 2009 film directed by John Hillcoat and written by Joe Penhall. Based on the 2006 novel of the same name by American author Cormac McCarthy, the film stars Viggo Mortensen and Kodi Smit-McPhee as a father and his son in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Filming took place in Pennsylvania, Louisiana, and Oregon. The film received a limited release in North American cinemas from November 25, 2009 and was released in UK cinemas on January 4, 2010.
The Road follows the plot of the book of the same name fairly closely: An unnamed father (Mortensen) and his young son (Smit-McPhee) struggle to survive a number of years after an unspecified, devastating cataclysm has destroyed civilization, wiped out plant life, obscured the sun, and nearly wiped out all of mankind. Out of desperation, they try to make their way toward the coast for possible food and shelter, or to find other “good” survivors. Knowing the state to which humanity has fallen, the man carries a pistol with two bullets in case they need to hasten the end. Along the way, they find scarce shelter and resources available to them, and have to avoid bands of cannibals while trying to maintain their own sense of morality and humanity. Various flashback and dream sequences occur in which the man recalls events prior to the catastrophe, many involving his believed-to-be-deceased wife, who has a much more expanded role in the film than in the book. It is revealed that his wife, depressed after delivering a child into a seemingly doomed world and having lost the will to go on, has left the family in the middle of the night without any supplies and into certain death. Meanwhile, the man coughs up blood and realizes he’s likely to die soon, but tries to instill values of self-preservation and humanity on his young son.
After several tense encounters with other survivors, the two make their way to the coast, only to find the same level of devastation. They opt to continue south, but the man finally succumbs to illness. The son finds a home with another family consisting of a father, mother, two children and a dog.
The Road was originally scheduled to be released in November 2008. It was pushed back to be released in December, and then pushed back a second time to sometime in 2009. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the studio decided that the film would benefit from a longer post-production process and a less crowded release calendar. A new release date was scheduled for October 16, 2009. However, according to reports from Screen Rant and /Film, the Weinsteins had decided at the last minute to delay the film to November 25, 2009 as a possible move to make the film more of an Oscar contender, bumping their previous film set for that date, Rob Marshall’s adaptation of the musical Nine (which is also predicted to be a huge awards contender) into December 2009.
The film had its world premiere in September 2009 at the Venice International Film Festival where it was in competition for the Golden Lion and Silver Lion prizes, and then at the Telluride Film Festival. It also screened at the Toronto International Film Festival.
Viggo Mortensen as the Man. Mortensen explained the interaction of the father with his son thus: “They’re on this difficult journey, and the father is basically learning from the son.”
Kodi Smit–McPhee as the Boy. At the London Film Festival, Mortensen explained that Smit-McPhee was one of four finalists for the part, all of whom then read with him. Smit-McPhee was unanimously chosen, in particular because he seemed youthful, innocent and yet wise beyond his years.
Charlize Theron as the Wife, who appears in flashback. Theron joined the film because she was a fan of the book and had previously worked with producer Nick Wechsler on the 2000 film The Yards. The character has a larger role in the film than she did in the book. Hillcoat said of the expanded role, “I think it’s fine to depart from the book as long as you maintain the spirit of it.”
Michael K. Williams as a thief.
Guy Pearce as a father wandering with his family.
Robert Duvall as Ely, an old, dying man.
Molly Parker as the wife of the father wandering with his family.
The Road is now in cinema.